Panama Canal Cruise – Day One – Hurray!!!

We are finally at Day One of our cruise.  We got everyone assembled in the lobby of the hotel and checked that everyone’s luggage was properly tagged and on the luggage trolleys.  After collecting some that were still in their rooms, we managed to get it all together.

The hotel had all the luggage put on the shuttle bus which could only hold 14 people.  That meant there were 4 that had to go in another vehicle.  The vehicle they sent for our seniors was a Suburban.  I could barely get in it, let alone some of our passengers.

After getting everyone on the ship, through the security and check in, Rick and I delivered gifts to our passengers cabins to welcome them aboard.  This was a little easier than I thought as the staterooms were still being cleaned so they were a surprise when our passengers finally got to their rooms.

Everyone was on their own after that.  Whew!!!  Of course our work is never done, so we were off to see the maitre d’ to make sure our group was sitting close together at dinner.

One of the nice things about cruising is that you can unpack, put things away, and not have to pack up again until the very end.  We are on the ms Westerdam from Holland America and found the staterooms to be slightly different from other ships we’ve been on.  A big one is that there is a minibar now which has taken the place of DRAWERS!!!  What’s with that???  Anyway, we managed to find homes for everything and then we were off to dinner.

We are on the early sitting in the dining room which is a little too early for us, but it does give you lots of time to take in the other evening activities.  We went to a “Game Show”, the Showtime extravaganza featuring the singers and dancers of the Westerdam, Charles & The HAL Cats in the Queen’s Lounge and of course, the “Disco” in the Northern Lights.  Can’t miss that.

It was a busy day and I think it will be a very busy cruise for us.  Time for a “Drink of the Day”…..

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Miami to Fort Lauderdale – Day One -1

Today was a fun lesson in getting from one place to another.  I had to get to Fort Lauderdale airport by 10:00 am and wasn’t sure how far it was or how to get there.  I asked at the front desk of my hotel, but got more information through the Internet.

If you ever need to get from Miami airport to Fort Lauderdale airport or vice versa, there is the SuperShuttle that will get you there for around $30.  You pick up the shuttle by the bag claim area of the airport.  Unfortunately, you may have a few stops to make before getting to the airport as it will take each passenger where ever they need to go along the route.  So even though it’s only about 40 minutes door-to-door, it may end up taking you longer.  So give yourself lots of time.

Along the way I got to see what a typical seniors condo complex looks like.  I hope they were nicer on the inside than on the outside.  I guess you live there for the weather.  I think I’ll stay in Vancouver for a while yet.

Anyway, after picking up our passengers at the airport, Rick Mauro from CAA Niagara and I, waited with them to get rooms.  The timing was not great as the plane got in at 10:00 am and most hotels will not let you check in until at least noon as they need to get the rooms ready.  This is another thing to consider when travelling and having to make connections.

Despite everything, our passengers seems to enjoy themselves though they were very tired from having to take such an early flight – many had not bothered to go to bed.

After checking everyone in and making sure all the luggage was in their rooms,etc, Rick and I went to Fort Lauderdale Beach, walked the beach and had lunch at Bubba Gump’s.  The bucket of shrimp is still to die for and tastes great with a cold beer.  I highly recommend it.

So, three things I learnt today is that you need to investigate travel arrangements yourself when in a strange land and, if possible, don’t book air travel to land hours before check in time of your hotel.  And thirdly, always make sure your guests are well looked after.  It’s only Day Zero of our cruise……

Vancouver to Miami – Day One -2

Day One started with a very early morning at YVR with nothing open at the gates – not even coffee.  The 767 was full so even though I sat in economy, my carry on flew in style in First Class where the Pods are.  Those are pretty cool.

I made a major mistake on the first lag to Toronto and that was in my choice for movies. The first one was fine – Madagascar II, funny and cute.  The SECOND was the killer – Marley & Me.  I read the book so I should have known better than to watch this while “trapped” in a packed airplane.  I almost turned it off many times but I just had to keep going.

I have had two Marleys in my life – we didn’t learn the first time!!  Marley #1 was a pitbull/lab cross named Skye who could destroy a couch in under 15 minutes.  We went to the corner store one day and came back to find the stuffing all over the family room.  The amazing part was that she was able to unzip and remove the cushion covers before demolishing the insides.  This was just one of several disasters we had with Skye.  Despite the destruction, she was very endearing and loveable.  I also had two Siamese cats when Skye lived with us.  They also became part of her pack requiring her to defend and protect them.  Whenever one of the cats was barfing up a hairball, she would get very upset, run around the house to find me and then do a real-life Lassie impression.  She’d run to me with this really worried look on her face and whine that something was wrong.  Then she’d run back to where the cat was.  If I didn’t follow right away, she would go through it again…and again…until I went to the cat. Then I would pick up the cat and take her to Skye who would inspect her to see if she was okay. Unfortunately, we only got to have Skye around for 10 years before she got cancer.

Because Skye had turned into a somewhat manageable dog with a big, big heart, we had to get another dog to replace her as soon as possible.  Marley #2 named Junior, a lab/shepherd cross.  was and still is both an absolute gem and a nightmare.  As a puppy she destroyed anything she could get her paws and teeth on – especially liking soccer cleats and shoes – but not exclusively.   At about a year old she discovered she had this amazingly loud and scary bark and she uses it on all the neighbors, people walking by the house and certain people during our walks.  I haven’t figured out what the common feature is that she doesn’t like, but if she doesn’t like you, you better make sure I have a good hold on her leash.  Watching the couple walking Marley in the movie was just like walking Junior.  And, like Marley, she flunked obedience training.

So by the time the movie was over I was a mess with one little scrunched up tissue.  So it was off the lavatory to splash cold water on the face to try to look presentable.  All my makeup was gone but everything was up in First Class having a good time and there was no time between planes to get fixed up again.  So no makeup all the way to Miami.  Oh, well.  I didn’t meet anyone I know, so I guess it’s okay.

So, remember when you fly, not to watch sad movies if you want to look good at the end of your journey.